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FAQ's
Frequently Asked Questions
     
 

FAQ'S For Buying a Solar Pool System

Ask about solar today…
According to government tallies, more solar collectors have been made for swimming pool heating than all other uses combined! With all that you've been reading and hearing about solar energy, you probably have a lot of questions. The following may answer some of them for you.

Q Why would I want my pool heated?
You probably bought your pool for many reasons like family fun, entertaining friends, exercise, those quiet relaxing moments or perhaps even for therapeutic reasons. You spent a lot of time making the decision to invest in a quality pool, furniture, fencing and accompanying items that go along with a pool. But if your pool is frequently too cold to swim in comfortably, you are not realizing the full benefit of your significant investment. Solar pool heating can effectively double the length of your pool season.

Q What is the best type of collector to use?
Unlike other solar pool heating systems that use tubes welded to each other or loose tubes, the Solar Industries collector uses a patented tube and curved web design that relieves stress caused by expansion and contraction. Solar Industries collectors are engineered with a direct flow system to provide optimum flow without restrictions that can cause excessive back pressure on your pool filtration system performance. Other collectors that use a sub-plenum create back pressure that reduces your filtration system performance. Our proven design has been in continuous operation for more than 25 years making Solar Industries the number one choice of satisfied swimming pool owners around the world.

Q Is a pool heating system easy to operate?
Yes, most solar systems are completely automatic and are as simple to operate as any fossil fuel heater.

Q How much will a solar pool heater cost?
The monthly payments on a solar pool heating system will be much less than the monthly charges for fuel do to the same amount of heating. In other words, you have instantaneous “payback”. After the system has been paid off, it will pay large dividends to you, each and every year, in the forms of cash and added comfort. Remember if you didn't have the solar heater, you would have a large fuel bill, the money can now be used for other purposes. Even if you aren't presently heating your pool, a solar heater can provide you with economic benefits. The financial equation is simple: increase the return on investment in your pool up to 30% and increase your fun, enjoyment, and swimming season by as much as 100%.

Q In simple terms, how does a solar pool heating system work?
Using the pump that circulates pool water through the filter, the water is diverted so that it flows though the many small passages of the solar collector, it's warmed by the sun. This warm water then flows directly back into the pool. When the pool is has reached your desirable comfort level, the water then by-passes the solar collector and returns directly to the pool.

Q How much will my solar heater cost to operate?
Since the sun energy is free, there are no operating costs to heat your pool.

Q What size system will I need for my pool?
There are many factors which affect this answer. These include: the size of the pool, how long you want to extend your comfortable swimming season, the wind on the pool, the average relative humidity in your area, and the tilt and orientation of the solar collectors. The solar installer will use this to design the proper solar collection system for your pool.

Q Do the solar collectors have to face south?
Not necessarily. The solar collectors should just be installed where they can be in the sun a portion of the day. Depending on the angle of the mounting surface east and west facing the system can function equally as well.

Q Can these collectors also be used to heat a spa?
Yes. However, unlike a pool heater, if you plan to use your spa in the evening, you'll require a backup gas or electric heater. This backup heater will only have to pick up the last few degrees so it will operate a lot less than it would without solar, and that means that you save a lot of fuel dollars.

Q How long can I expect my Solar Industries collectors to last?
Solar Industries is the only solar pool heating collector that has survived a grueling 23 year life expectancy test performed in the Arizona desert. In addition, Solar Industries offers the strongest warranties in the industry, which are backed up by actual field experience since 1976.

Q Why should I buy Solar Industries solar pool heating system?
· The Solar Industries collector has been in continuous production & service since 1976.
· It's backed by the strongest warranty in the industry.
· It has been engineered as a completely integrated system to exacting specifications and quality control to provide you with extended trouble-free performance.
· Superior components, including stainless steel hardware.
· The Solar Industries solar pool heating system has been tested and its performance certified by accredited independent laboratories and approval agencies.

Q How qualified are Solar Industries dealers?
Authorized Solar Industries dealers have earned a reputation for their skill and dependability. They are thoroughly trained craftsman and familiar with every detail of installation and service. They provide added assurance of continued satisfaction. Solar Industries has dealers and distributors throughout the world.

Q Where can I find out more about the Solar Industries solar pool heating system?
That's easy! Click on www.thesolarenergycompany.com and fill out the "Contact Us" Form and email it to us today for more information.

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FAQ's for Buying a Solar Electric System

Are you thinking about generating your own electricity? Here are some Frequently Asked Questions that can help you decide if investing in a solar electric system is right for you.

Q What is a solar electric or photovoltaic system?
Solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) systems use the sun's energy to make electricity. PV technology produces direct current electricity by collecting electrons freed by the interaction between sunlight and the semiconductor materials in PV cell.

Q Why should I consider buying a PV system?
A PV system reduces or eliminates the amount of electricity you purchase from the utility or electric service provider. A PV system can save you money on your electricity bill and acts as a hedge against future price increases. The electricity generated by your PV system is clean, renewable and reliable. You can help your community by reducing the load on the utility grid and you can provide additional electricity for the grid when you generate more than you use during the day, when electricity demand is highest.

Q Do I have a good site for PV?
Your site must have clear, unobstructed access to the sun. Buildings, trees or other vegetation should not shade your site. South facing roof exposure is best, but roofs facing east and west may be OK. If a rooftop is not available, your PV system can also be mounted on the ground.

Q What should the size of my PV system be?
You can match the size of your system to your electricity needs and budget. The average household in California uses about 6,500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. If your usage is typical of the average household, a system in the 3 to 4 kilowatt (kW) range would be adequate to meet most of your electricity needs. To estimate the best system size for your home or business, examine your electricity usage for the last 12 months and apply this easy formula.

Annual Usage 1 kW System Output System Capacity
6,500 kWh divided 1750 kWh = 3.71 kW

A system with a capacity of 1kW can produce about 1750 kWh per year. Divide your annual electricity usage (in kWh per year) by 1750 kWh to get the system size (capacity in kilowatts) that would meet most of your electricity needs. If you want your PV system to meet half of your electricity needs, then you should size it to meet half of your annual electrical usage. Or you can offset only a small portion of your electricity bill with a single PV panel. If you size your system larger then your average electrical needs, for example to meet your highest electricity needs on summer afternoons, your system would generate more electricity then you could use during the rest of the year.

Q How much mounting space do I need?
A small PV system can use as little as 50 square feet. A larger system to meet the needs of a typical household would use between 300 to 600 square feet. As a rule of thumb, 100 square feet of PV area produces 1 kilowatt of electricity.

Q Are there any special features I should consider?
An inverter is needed to change the direct current (DC) power from the solar panels alternating current (AC) electricity to power your electrical devices and to be compatible with the electric grid. Batteries can provide back-up-power for your home or business in case of grid outages, but also increase your costs.

Q How much does a PV system cost?
Although many factors affect the cost, an average PV system cost from $9 to $10 dollars a watt, including installation, or $18,000 to $20,000 for a 2kW system.

Q Are there any incentives or rebates available?
YES! The California Energy Commission Emerging Renewables Buy Down Account offers cash rebates on eligible PV systems. You can get a rebate on eligible PV systems. You can get a rebate of $4.00 per watt or up to 50 percent of the total eligible system cost, whichever is less. For example, for a 2kW system costing $20,000 installed, the rebate amount is approximately $8500 (the $4.00 per watt rebate applies because it is lower than 50 percent of the total cost.)

Q Am I eligible for a rebate?
If you live in the electricity service territory of Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison Company, San Diego Gas and Electric Company, LA Department of Water and Power you are eligible for the Emerging Renewables Buy down rebate. Either you or your system retailer can apply for the rebate.

Q What do I need to know about connecting my PV system to the grid?
You will need to enter into an Interconnection Agreement with your utility. This agreement addresses the terms and conditions under which your system will be safely connected to the grid. The agreement also specifies the metering arrangements (called Net Metering) Net Metering allows you to “bank” any surplus electricity your system generates on the electric grid.

Excess electricity might be generated during the day when your system produces more electricity than you need. Your meter would simply run backwards to record the amount of electricity banked on the grid. You can use an equal amount of electricity later without incurring any additional cost. If you use more electricity from the grid than you have banked, your utility will charge you annually for the difference. (Please refer to the Energy Commission's ABC's of net metering for more information.)

Q How do I find a PV retailer?
The California Energy Commission and the California Solar Energy Industries Association provide lists of PV retailers. Retailers either can provide installation or can refer you to installation contractors in your area. Try to find a company located in the area where your system will be installed. Price is only one factor when selecting a PV company and/or contractor. You can also fill out the form under the menu item "Contact Us" on this web site for additional information.

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A B C’S OF Net Metering

Did you know that Net Metering could save you money on your electric bill? Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about how net metering works and what it could mean for you.

Q What is Net Metering?
Net Metering measures the difference between the electricity you buy from your utility and electricity you generate using your own solar or wind generating equipment. Your meter keeps track of this “net” difference as you generate electricity and take electricity from the electricity transmission grid. When you generate more than you use, your electric meter spins backward!

Q Am I eligible?
You are eligible for the Net Metering if you are a residential or small commercial electricity customer in California, and generate at least some of your electricity using solar or wind energy, or a combination of both, with a system capacity of one megawatt or less. Your electric generating system must be located on your premises and connected to the grid.

Q How does Net Metering work?
Net Metering is a special metering and billing agreement between you and your utility or electric service provider (ESP). Normally your electric meter spins forward as it measures how many kilowatt-hours of electricity you buy, and is read by your utility once a month.

A Net Metering agreement allows you to use the electricity you generate first, reducing what you would normally buy from your utility or ESP. If you generate more electricity than you use, the excess goes through your electric meter and into the grid, spinning your meter backward. Your meter shows the net amount, measured as the difference between the electricity you generate and the electricity you purchase from your utility or ESP.

Q What are the benefits of Net Metering?
Net Metering is a simple way to get full value of the electricity you generate. For example, if you are a residential customer, you may not be home during the day when your system generates electricity. Net Metering allows you to “store” this excess electricity on the grid, reducing or offsetting the electricity you would otherwise have to purchase.

The Net Metering law has recently been expanded to allow “time of use” agreements that place a higher value on electricity during peak times of high demand, such as on weekdays from noon to 6pm during summer months. This could mean savings for you if your excess generation occurs during peak hours, and your electricity use occurs mostly during off-peak or partial off-peak hours. If you generate more than you use during the afternoon, the electricity you put on the grid is valued at a higher price than electricity you consume in the late evening or early morning, when you are charged a lower price rate.

Another benefit of Net Metering is the “baseline” rate you are charged for the net electricity you consume. The baseline is a given amount of electricity you consume. The baseline is a given amount of electricity for your home or business; you are charged a lower rate for each kilowatt-hour of electricity you consume below the baseline, and a higher rate above it. If your system is sized to offset most of your electricity needs, you are charged a lower rate for the minimal electricity you purchase from your utility if your annual net consumption falls at or below baseline.

Net Metering offers additional benefits, depending on the size of your generating system. If you purchase a smaller, less expensive system, you can still offset most or all of your electricity needs because of the higher value of your “bank” or store your excess electricity on the grid and offset all of the electricity you would otherwise purchase form your utility or ESP.

Q How will I be billed under Net Metering?
Your utility will continue to read your meter monthly. Under a Net Metering agreement, you will receive a monthly statement indicating the net amount of electricity you consumed or generated during that billing period.

On the anniversary of your agreement, you will be billed for the net electricity you consumed for the previous twelve months. You may request the option of monthly billing. Depending on the type of agreement you have, your meter might show a credit during some or all-billing periods even though the actual kilowatt-hours you generate and consume are equal.

Your utility is not required to pay you or credit your account for you excess generation each year, but it might do so. Contact your utility or ESP to discuss the option of negotiating rates for purchasing excess generation. If your current utility or ESP does not purchase excess electricity, you may contract with another company that will agree to purchase it.

Q What size should my generating system be?
To be eligible for a Net Metering agreement in California, generating systems cannot have peak power output of more than one megawatt. Although a minimum size is not required, most residential systems range between two and four kilowatts. Your system size will depend on your needs and how much electricity you want to generate. You can also build your system by starting small and expanding over time. As long as your total system output is not greater than one megawatt, this modular approach of still allowable.

Q Can I use my current electric meter?
Most residential and small commercial customers have sample meter that is bi-directional, capable of turning in both directions. Some utilities or ESP’s may want two meters for net metering, one to measure electricity going from the grid to your home or business, and one to measure the excess going from your system to the grid. If your utility wants two, unidirectional meters, they must pay for them, not you. If you enter into a time-of –use billing agreement, you will need to purchase a bi-directional time –of-use meter. Contact your utility for more information.

Q How do I sign up?
It’s simple. Contact your utility or ESP and ask if they offer Net Metering. Your ESP and the company that distributes electricity to you may be the same or different companies. Your ESP handles the billing and accounting for Net Metering, while your local distribution company (LDC) handles how your generating system is connected to the grid. You and your LDC may also need to enter into an Interconnection Agreement, which will outline the requirements for safely connecting your generating system to the grid.

When connecting the system to your grid, you LDC cannot:

Require you to purchase or pay for any meters beyond the simple bi-directional meter that you probably already have, with the exception of time-of –use meters.

Impose any requirements, standards, or tests on your system – of it meets existing national standards for grid-interconnected systems.

Require you to purchase any additional insurance

Require you to buy your electricity from them for their affiliates

Other common questions about Net Metering

Q If my generating system produces more electricity than I need, is my utility or ESP required to buy it from me?
Utilities or ESP’s may, but are not required to purchase any excess electricity you produce at the end of each year of your net metering agreement. State laws says that they do not have to buy your net generation. However, some ESP’s especially those specializing in selling “green” electricity. May be willing to buy your excess solar or wind electricity to re-sell to their other customers.

Q Will I have to pay for special meters inspections or fees to get my system hooked up to the grid?
You are only responsible for having a simple, bi-directional meter, the type you probably already have, unless you decide to purchase a time of use meter. If your generating system meets national safety and performance standards, you cannot be charged for additional tests, certifications for fees.

Q Will the electricity I might still need to buy from a utility meter or ESP costume more than before I became a Net Metered customer?
No, your utility or ESP cannot charge you more for electricity because you are a Net-Metered customer, and not charges can be imposed on the electricity you generate.

 

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